Pathological Liars Believe in the Lies

There is a reason why you are asked in court to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is because most of the time that is not what people do. Everyone lies sometimes. There are many reasons to lie. Sometimes it is to not hurt someone's feelings. Sometimes a lie is for our own advantage. Some people lie in conducting business and in their personal lives. Most adults are aware of when they lie.

Young children sometimes have problems telling fantasy from reality. When a 3-year-old insists that he flew to Mars this morning, he may not be lying on purpose. He may not even be aware that it is a lie. Children with good imaginations often take longer to learn what a lie really is. It is important to work with children to teach them about fantasy and reality, instead of punishing them for these kinds of beliefs.

A pathological liar believes in the lies, at least at the time that she or he is talking. Their stories tend to be very dramatic. They often portray the person as being smarter, braver, more attractive, or more interesting than she or he really is. Sometimes people begin to catch onto pathological liars because of obvious flaws in the stories. A fairly young man will describe his heroics in the Vietnam war. A homely woman will talk about all the men who fell instantly in love with her. Sometimes the flaws may be more subtle and it may take a knowledgeable person to find them. Often it happens that a pathological liar will be caught out at a party by someone who really was a pilot, really lived in Africa, or really was a fashion model.

Suspect a pathological liar if:

  • the stories seem too dramatic or unrealistic

  • the lies seem to serve no purpose except to impress people or

  • the lies can easily be shown up

Sometimes pathological lying appears to be related to physical causes, such as problems in the brain. Other times they appear to be related to low self-esteem. In any case, good diagnosis and treatment is needed. Contact your healthcare provider for assistance and referrals if needed.

Read more about relationships with pathological liars

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, February 16). Pathological Liars Believe in the Lies, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Last Updated: February 3, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

More Info